Patrick Sullivan's Saloon (12)


100 North Central Street

Patrick Sullivan was born in County Kerry, Ireland, in 1841 and immigrated with his parents to America as a child. The Sullivan family eventually settled in Knoxville and work in railroad construction. The Sullivan family was one of the founding families of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church – as a teen, Patrick was one of the volunteers who helped build the first church structure in 1855. During the Civil War, Patrick joined the Union Army in Kentucky, rising to the rank of captain. When the war ended, he returned to Knoxville and opened his saloon.

Patrick’s first saloon was a small wood-frame building located very close to the present-day building, near the Southern Railway Depot. Patrick, who lived in the present building with his large family, converted it to a saloon in 1888 after the family moved out. At the time, Sullivan’s Saloon was an anchor of a saloon district called the Bowery, which included as many as 20 saloons along a half-mile stretch of Central, roughly from the railroad to the river, as well as numerous other legal and semi-legal businesses catering mostly to travelers and working-class men. The saloon was run by Patrick’s colleague, Dan Dewine, who later used his saloon earnings to help establish St. Mary’s Hospital, East Tennessee’s first Catholic hospital.

The saloon operated from 1888 until 1907, when the city banned saloons. After that, the building hosted other businesses, including a boarding house, a bordello, an upholstery business, and most notably Armetta’s Ice Cream, which flourished here in the 1920s and ‘30s – their advertisement is still visible in fading paint on the wall. It was reborn as Sullivan’s Saloon on St. Patrick’s Day 1988, after being restored by Kristopher Kendrick. Sullivan’s Saloon has been called the best surviving example of a downtown saloon in the southeastern United States.

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